Has the craziness of September caught up with you yet? Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news but October has officially arrived and brought along with it sports practices, dance lessons, fundraisers and school commitments. It can be difficult this time of year just to think of an idea for supper never mind actually implementing a regular dinner meal. My family has a few regular favourites for weeknight dinners but I also like to mix things up so it doesn’t get boring.
One of the things I love to do is highlight seasonal VEGETABLES. Try to make time for your local weekend farmer’s market or find some friends who may have extra garden produce that they are willing to share. Often in October farmers are pulling out their carrots, potatoes and peppers. I can think of a ton of protein options that go well with all of these vegetables.
POTATOES are a main side dish in many homes because of their ability to fill us up. If you find something missing on your plate at dinner often it is the starch. There are so many different kinds of potatoes you can usually get away with serving them several times in a week just by changing up the type of potato or preparation style.
“Potatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, and B vitamins, as well as certain types of minerals. Some varieties even have phytonutrients that have antioxidant properties.”
If you find yourself with no potatoes, change-up the carbs and try quinoa, rice, gnocchi, bean or some pasta tossed with butter and herbs.
CARROTS are harvested in September as well and the farmer’s market will probably have large bags of them for purchase. A bag of carrots goes a long way in our home and they are pretty cheap. We chop them up and have them on the side with burgers or as a snack in our kid’s lunches. Hamburgers are a quick and easy meal option, and they can be healthy and filling if you offer lots of tomatoes, mushrooms and other veggies on the side. And for those times you find yourself with way too many carrots, make a carrot cake….I have a good recipe which is basically fool-proof. http://wp.me/p3QU1I-1W
I also saw a recipe for Inside Outside Carrot Cake cookies and they look absolutely amazing. Let me know if you make them and I may stop by for coffee that day.
And then there are PEPPERS. Some people love them and others hate them. Peppers are a fridge staple in our house. I use yellow, red and orange bell peppers as a side dish with many different protein options. One of our favourites is Baked Chicken Breasts with Sweet Chili Sauce and Roasted Peppers. Its super easy and quick to toss a few chicken breasts in sweet chili sauce, put them in a roasting pan alongside a few quartered peppers and bake until the chicken is done. You have a full meal in just 30-40 minutes. If you need a starch, add in some quinoa on your plate to soak up any extra chili sauce.
At the end of the season (usually mid October) sweet and hot peppers can often be purchased in bulk for pickling. Or if you are one to always have Taco Tuesday, dice up some peppers and add them in. For my family, my kids are required to take at least two offered vegetables for their tacos, so just make sure you offer a few veggie choices and you might be surprised at what they pick.
Another variation on Chicken and Peppers is my recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken. You can add in any vegetables that you think might work during the baking but I find that diced peppers pair really nicely with this recipe. If your kids like Pineapple, throw some in too…..unfortunately in my house nobody is a fan of Pineapple (other than myself).
Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken: Total time ~ 1 hr 10 minutes
Preparation: ~10 Minutes
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and grease or line a baking dish with parchment paper
Prepare Sweet and Sour Sauce, either homemade or store-bought (homemade is best: sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic powder mixed together)
Dice 2-3 uncooked chicken breasts
Add 2/3 Cup of Flour or Cornstarch to a ziplock bag and add in some seasonings (garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper etc.)
Add 2 eggs to a bowl and beat
Baking: ~60 Minutes
Dip chicken pieces first in the eggs
Then add chicken to the ziplock bag of flour/cornstarch and toss until all of the pieces are coated
Add 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil to a non-stick frying pan and add chicken until just lightly browned
Add sweet and sour sauce to chicken to coat
Spread out chicken in a single layer on the prepared baking dish/pan
Cook for 40-50 minutes tossing at least once
Meanwhile – make rice
Bake chicken unit is cooked through, sauce has thickened and the chicken looks browned on the outside
Serve over your favourite rice and ENJOY!
3 Chicken Breasts
2/3 C Flour or Cornstarch
Seasonings (Salt, Pepper, Garlic)
Rice (Any kind)
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
If you love to default to your crock-pot, why not throw in some Peppers into your Spaghetti Sauce? A quick and easy to prepare supper in the crock-pot is Spaghetti Meat Sauce. Throw in some ground beef, tomato sauce, herbs/spices, chopped onion, mushrooms, peppers and cook on low for the day. Then when you get home all you have to do is give it a big stir and put on a pot of pasta and supper is ready. Trust me, your family will appreciate your homemade effort and your house will smell amazing when you get home from work.
And finally, what would be a blog post without a little baking? For the start of yet another busy week I have tried a new tasty recipe to share. Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins. They are delicious and you might want to just hide them all for yourself. I added in chocolate chips to my recipe – because….why not?
Recipe from: A Burst of Beautiful: “The Best Homemade Raspberry Muffins”